Several weeks ago we walked in, pretty late, to training while our speaker was being introduced along with her 2 adopted children. She also has 3 biological kids who were much older (teens) by the time her and her husband pursued adoption. She was there to speak about her first adoption, which was disrupted. This means that she chose to take an “at risk” placement (taking the baby right away-while the birth mother still had not completely relinquished her rights). In Maryland, the birth mother has 30 days after placement before she completely signs her rights away, and in those 30 days, she can change her mind. As you may have seen in my last post, this law strikes terror in my heart. This causes my emotions about the birth mother to swing like a pendulum to such extremes that I have trouble describing, so before I go any further on our speaker’s presentation, I’m going to digress and try to dissect them for you:
On the one hand, and my initial gut reaction, was that 30 days is WAY. TOO. LONG. It is. I think it may be the longest of any state in the country, although I haven’t researched it thoroughly and I have a hunch that California is similar? Texas is something like 2, some states are 10, 3, 14. But 30?! And don’t even get me started on how long it can be if they are trying to track down an unknown birth father. We are talking months. Seriously. And my feelings over these 30 days of my life has made me fear the birth mother over something that is absolutely not her fault and completely out of her control. However, the reality is that birth mothers do change their minds. One statistic was brought up in class: that from start to finish of the adoption process, 50% of birth mothers change their minds and decide to parent. Of course that statistic is heavily skewed by the amount of women who change their minds while they are still pregnant, and this is lumping all of them into one category, including the ones who ask to have their babies back after they have been placed in adoptive homes (and that number is much smaller). Because of this statistic, this unknown, the agency encourages adoptive parents to utilize an option they call “interim care”. It’s like the idea of foster care, but they are private families working through the agency, who take care of the babies until they are completely free for adoption (risk free!!). You are still able to see your baby, visit and bond with him or her, but the baby does not stay in your home. I’ll be honest with you (and hope that my social worker never sees this blog). I hate this idea. I hate the 30 days. Maryland and its stupid laws can suck an egg for doing this to me emotionally. I do not want interim care. I want to take my baby home. I find myself still feeling very angry at the birth mother for even having the option to do this to me.
And before I get to the other hand (please, please read the other hand before you judge me too harshly), let me tell you that the speaker who came to us on this night looked us in the eye and told me all about my adoption nightmare and how it happened to her. Their family adopted a little boy, had him for 10 precious days, and the birth mother called and asked to have him back after 10 days. I believe they gave the family a last 48 hours with him. She told us about going to church as a family one last time together. She shared with us how each of her children had given him one gift to take with him to his new home. I could hardly see through my tears when she shared that her eldest son led a communion service and prayed over him and his parents, taking the lead for the family at a time when his mother and father were too inconsolable to do so themselves. She said that she later knew that the only reason she held it together on that last night with her precious boy was because her church family was fasting and praying for her while she stayed up and held him. She even wrote a note to his mother, so that she knew that they were not angry, and that they loved him, and her. There’s so much more to her story, but I certainly can’t do it justice here. My point is that she has peace, and she still went on to adopt the family that God had for her. I think they wanted us to see her and for it to give us great pause about taking a child in an “at risk” placement. And I think her story meant different things for all of us. She said something interesting, though. She said that maybe that baby was always meant to be with his mother. Maybe his mother needed those 10 days, and it was her family’s ministry to care for him while his mother came to that realization and pulled herself together enough to be a mother to him. What makes it so interesting is that Stu has been saying the exact same thing about surrendering a baby. When I’ve asked him if he could bond, he’s said, without a doubt. It would be his ministry to give his heart to a baby completely.
All of this makes it sound like we’ve made a decision about interim care, and I thought we had too. It’s one thing to put our own hearts “at risk”, I’m willing to at a moment’s notice. But what about our son? What about him? I can’t decide that for him. It’s a ridiculous amount of time to have to think about. So, I get angry all over again. And do you know what people do when they are angry? They want to blame someone. And I keep blaming the birth mother, because, in that time she can change her mind. Traumatize us all. So that’s that one hand. But on the other hand…
…to be continued